Give yourself—and your partner—a chance to breathe in the months before your wedding with these easy, expert tips.

Give yourself—and your partner—a chance to breathe in the months before your wedding with these easy, expert tips.

Alison and Irene, Photo Courtesy of Our Labor of Love

Marcos and Frank, Photo Courtesy of Star Sargenti and Michael Deco of Harmony Wedding Photography

Kelly and Dani, Photo Courtesy of Tinywater Photography

“There can be a dark side to wedding planning: stress,” says Gregory A. Kuhlman, Ph.D., founder of the Marriage Success Training workshops ( and director of the Mental Health Counseling Program at Brooklyn College, City University of New York. Financial strains, opinionated family members and anxious significant others can all be pre-wedding stressors. “Stress management is more difficult during this time since your natural support system—your partner, friends and family—are now potential sources of stress. Many couples break up during their wedding planning because they haven’t taken measures to protect their relationship from stress.”

So what can you do to protect yourself and your loved one from burning out before the ceremony? Here’s Kuhlman’s advice:

Keep your expectations realistic.
“Understand that stress and difficulty are inescapable as part of the run-up to getting married,” he says.

Sort out sources of stress into those you can control and those you can’t.
For example, you can’t influence the attitudes of family members, but you can control things like finances and your own attitude.

Monitor and be realistic about finances.
“If you’re being overly expansive or if your expenses are greater than anticipated—vendors can nickel-and-dime you to death—you’re putting yourself under stress,” Kuhlman says. “It’s more important to be realistic than to stick with idealistic plans that will put you under tremendous financial stress.”

Don’t forget date night.
“Wedding planning tends to get all-consuming for people. They tend to think ‘Oh, yes, we’re a little stressed now, so we’ll put our relationship on hold until we get through this.’ That’s a very dangerous approach,” Kuhlman says. “Try to preserve your bond. When you start your wedding-planning calendar, add in some time away from wedding planning and events—especially in that last month. Make a hotel reservation and go somewhere else if you can.” During these getaways, he adds, it’s important to not talk about the wedding or any other problems.

Use tried-and-true de-stressing techniques.
“Yoga, meditation, journaling and leisure pursuits are all great ways to manage stress,” Kuhlman says.

Monitor your self-talk.
“We all have a dialog inside our heads,” Kuhlman explains. “If you think stress-arising things, you tend to have more stress. If you catastrophize, you’re going to make the stress worse. If you find yourself catastrophizing things, you can’t just tell yourself, ‘No, stop that,’ because nature abhors a vacuum. You need to put something positive in its place. Even the simplest things work, like this mantra: ‘It’s going to be OK. We’re going to be married, and it’s going to be fine. We love each other.’” Likewise, he notes, be cognizant of saying supportive things to your partner.

Consider pre-marital education classes.
“Pre-marital counseling is what people think of for marriage preparation, but what most people can use more is pre-marital education,” Kuhlman says. During these classes, which can last for as short as a day up to a few weeks, couples learn about the normal stresses and issues that people face in long-term relationships and what they can do to give their relationship the best chance to succeed. Visit to find classes geared to your unique relationship and time constraints.